Lowe, who hasn’t been very effective lately and can’t figure out why, again tries to break out of his funk when he takes the ball for the Braves in Friday’s series opener against the NL West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks.
Despite arriving in Atlanta after losing two straight to Philadelphia following a seven-game winning streak, the Diamondbacks (69-55) are still 2 1/2 games ahead of San Francisco in the West. They can thank the Braves for helping them maintain that lead.
Atlanta (73-52) defeated the Giants 1-0 on Thursday to take three of four from the defending World Series champions. Chipper Jones(notes) homered off Tim Lincecum(notes) in the fifth inning to help the Braves win for the eighth time in 11 games.
They’ve opened a six-game lead over San Francisco in the race for the NL wild card. For a rotation already led by All-Stars Jair Jurrjens(notes) and Tim Hudson(notes), the Braves had several young pitchers do well against the Giants - Randall Delgado(notes), Arodys Vizcaino(notes) and Mike Minor(notes).
“It’s almost embarrassing how many young pitchers who can help this club we have at the minor league level,” said Jones, batting .147 in his last nine games against the Diamondbacks.
These young arms could put Lowe’s status for the playoffs in question.
Lowe (7-11, 4.89 ERA) gave up five runs and 10 hits in six innings in Saturday’s 8-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs. Since June 13, he has the majors’ third-worst ERA at 6.30.
The sinkerballer’s season ERA is 0.57 higher than it was through 26 starts last season, but he feels like he is pitching better than he was a year ago.
“That’s what I think stinks about right now, I’ve pitched way worse,” he told the Braves’ official website. “Granted there have been a lot of stinkers in there, but I felt way worse last year than I do. That’s the head scratching thing.”
Lowe, 2-3 with a 5.34 ERA in 10 starts at Turner Field, will be facing Arizona for the first time this year. The right-hander has an 8.18 ERA in losing his last two starts against the Diamondbacks after going 2-1 with a 0.89 ERA in his previous three against them.
Justin Upton(notes) has regularly given Lowe problems, going 5 for 11 lifetime, and has three homers and seven RBIs in his last nine games against the Braves. The two-time All-Star is 0 for 8 in his last two games after going 14 for 28 with three home runs and seven RBIs in his previous seven.
Upton wasn’t the only Arizona player to struggle in the final two games in Philadelphia, as the team totaled three runs and six hits in those defeats.
After allowing seven runs and 11 hits in a season-low three innings in a 9-1 loss to Houston on Aug. 8, Hudson gave up four runs and eight hits in eight innings in Saturday’s 6-4 victory over the New York Mets. The right-hander, who has never faced the Braves, improved to 4-0 with a 2.83 ERA in five career starts against NL East teams.